Last month we learnt that government officials were planning a digital ‘vault’. Entirely unlike the National Identity Register the ‘vault’ would store people’s addresses, phone numbers, tax details, where they are registered to vote, driving records and benefit claims, as well as information about their mortgages, pensions and bank accounts. The scheme would be voluntary, although probably in about the same way as agreeing to a credit check is voluntary e.g. not if you ever want a financial service again.
An on-line poll hosted by the Telegraph says that 82% of people wouldn’t sign up to such a service. Of course we all know on-line polls are not really that representative of public opinion, but it isn’t surprising that people might have some issue with all their financial details being stored in a single place. Even those in the ‘nothing to hide’ camp who don’t grasp the dangers of surveillance will have seen stories about the millions of hacked files from companies like Carphone Warehouse. Plenty of people are going to be pretty wary of creating a honey pot of financial and personal data.
The really daft thing about this proposal (aside from surveillance horror of all your financial details being held in a government vault) is that the government is already working on a different way to verify people’s personal identity on-line. The identity assurance programme if done correctly has the potential to be able to verify people’s identity through third party identity providers without a centralised identity database. Given there are potentially privacy friendly ways of proving identity on-line you have to wonder why some officials just can’t let go of their dream of a centralised identity database.
NO2ID will be watching the developments of this plan closely.